Rio 2016: Elinor Barker believes pressure is off for GB pursuit team

Elinor Barker
Elinor Barker was in the British pursuit team that won gold at the 2013 World Championships
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Venue: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Dates: 5-21 August Time in Rio: BST -4
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Welsh cyclist Elinor Barker believes there is less pressure on GB's women's Olympic pursuit team in Rio because they are not clear favourites to win.

Team GB won gold in London 2012 but could manage only third at the 2016 World Championships.

USA and Canada will be threats to the British team of Barker, Laura Trott, Ciara Horne and Joanna Rowsell Shand.

"There's maybe less pressure now because it's not necessarily ours to lose," the 21-year-old Barker said.

"It's still ours to win, but there's not a dominant force in women's team pursuit now which there had been for many, many years.

"I think it makes it much more exciting but it also means no one is watching any one team.

"We're all watching each other, we're all interested in what everyone is going to do and there's probably about five teams who could quite easily win it if it goes well for them on the day which makes it pretty exciting."

The Team GB Women's pursuit team of Joanna Rowsell Shand, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Ciara Horne
The Team GB Women's pursuit team (l to r) Joanna Rowsell Shand, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Ciara Horne

Barker was a 17-year-old watching on television when the GB team of Trott, Rowsell Shand and Danielle King beat USA in the pursuit final at the 2012 Games.

She said it was difficult to believe that four years later she will be competing at Rio.

"Probably a combination of luck and very hard work has got me here," added Barker.

"I wouldn't be here if I hadn't worked very hard and been very specific in my training but I've also been very lucky in the opportunities I've been given."

Barker, from Cardiff, was in the team that took a bronze medal in the World Championships this year, when a poor performance in an early round ended their chances of reaching the final.

After years of dominating the event, the result attracted criticism though Barker believes there is a lot that the GB team have learned from that set-back.

"It just goes to show people make mistakes all the time but it doesn't mean that we're not a good team," she added.

"We came back from it [to take bronze] with exactly the same line-up so it shows it was that ride rather than us - it was a bad race and it doesn't define us as a team."